Celtic close their Europa League campaign against Fenerbahçe tonight in Istanbul. The match itself is insignificant to Celtic but for Fenerbahçe it is about trying to seal second spot in Group A.
Ronny Deila will have to decide what sort of team to put out for a match that has no real value to our club. Pride was severely damaged in this campaign but even though there is nothing to play for, you still don’t want to go out looking like chumps.
My personal opinion though is that we should experiment a little. So far this season we’ve been let down by some of our senior players so some fringe squad members would benefit from the experience.
Our top players this season have been Tierney, Bitton, Rogić and Griffiths. Tonight I’d like to see young players get a chance and follow the example of ‘young Tierney’.
The result is not important but the performance is. Ajax will be bursting at the seems for a Celtic result but I’d rather see that shower crash out.
Fenerbahçe head coach Vitor Pereira spoke to the media by saying that he felt Celtic had been unlucky in the Europa League. Before you completely dismiss that suggestion it’s worth thinking about what he said.
This has been a very poor campaign for the club and the fans but from time to time you need a bit of luck. Unfortunately for Ronny Deila, every mistake made on the park was costly.
Sometimes you need a bit of luck to get past those blips. Instead Celtic were punished each time.
The superstitious streak in me would say we used up our luck last season at the expense of Legia Warsaw. We blew that opportunity though and this season has proved to be worse in Europe.
Putting luck to one side, Celtic have not one but two seasons to learn from now. We hear from players and coaches that there is improvement.
Next season fans will want to see some evidence of that in Europe. The Europa League was consolation for the Champions League and like last season it is very possible that had we got in we would have been slaughtered.
Malmö, our conquerers in Champions League qualifying this season racked up three points in total in the group phase. That’s one win and five defeats with an 8-0 drubbing at the hands of Real Madrid the greatest of the damage.
Many assume that having exited at the hands of the Swedes, Celtic would have suffered a greater defeat by Real Madrid. In the real world that isn’t how football works.
I’m not suggesting that Celltic would have done a better job in the Champions League. Malmö had a tough group but every team has variety of experiences against the same opposition.
Celtic will return to that arena once more and hopefully with bigger impression. To build you must be consitent and by being consistent you will make progress.
Send out the boys tonigjt and put the Europa League behind us. Better times are ahead.